Mummy Go Away

'Mummy go away' came the harsh but innocent voice of my precious little boy. It's not that he doesn't love me or want to be close to me but simply that once again I was disturbing his precious bedtime routine with his daddy. Most nights I welcomed the fact that bedtime was a special daddy time for Ben. It gave me the chance to settle Fin and have 15 minutes to myself to clean the kitchen or just sit with a cuppa. But occasionally I just felt the need to join in with Ben and daddy and be part of the snug little moment of intimacy. And it was inevitably on these nights that I would be shunned and I'd be sent from the bedroom - like a walk of shame across the room, leaving them to continue in their exclusive shared moment. I felt like an intruder.

Ben is very much a child who gives cuddles on his terms. As a toddler these were more rare; he was far too busy exploring shapes, counting things or seeking out spinning toys or objects. I am beyond grateful to God that as he has got older he has become increasingly affectionate and cuddly. I am so aware that this is often not the case for children on the Autistic spectrum and I can imagine lack of affection from your child must be one the most painful things to cope with as a parent.

Ben is now a dichotomy of extremely affectionate and cuddly on one hand, and extremely distant and distracted on the other. His affections and cuddles are still very much on his terms. I have just learnt to read him, to know when he will want affection and when to leave well alone.

This is never truer than in his relationship with his little brother Finlay. Poor Fin gets the brunt of Ben's impulsive behaviour and frustrations. Much of my day is filled with dealing with situations where Fin has been hit, pushed or had toys snatched from his hands. And yet, woe betide anyone else who hurts or upsets Finlay. Just this week my heart literally melted and I felt myself welling up as I saw Ben comfort his crying, tired brother with a tenderness that I would never have imagined possible just a year ago. Was this a genuine empathic response from Ben (lack of empathy is classic in ASD) or was it a learned behaviour that to comfort is 'what you do' when someone is upset? Either way it was a precious moment that I shall cherish forever.

Ben now asks for me to do his bedtime routine on a regular basis - I'm still not quite as popular as daddy - but that's ok. I welcome the chance to chillax on my own! But when it is my turn to put him to bed I make the very most of the precious cuddly time I have with him. As I lie next to him in his bed, his arms tight round my neck and we talk about his day and compete to tell each other how much we love each other, I store every second in my heart to comfort me and give me perspective when I have days when cuddles are swapped for kicking and spitting. When it seems like i have lost my baby to the harsher side of Aspergers I know that it's not really who he is. The real Ben, the loving little boy is in there - we just have to wait until he is ready to come out.

"Mummy I love you so much that I want to be in your heart so I can be with you all the time"

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